Newest Reviews
Female Fight Club
Fateful Findings
Transformers: The Last Knight
Foreigner, The
Clones, The
Monster Hunt
Happy End
Ugly American, The
Ritual of Evil
Vigilante Diaries
Happy Death Day
You Can't Stop the Murders
Legend of the Mountain
Man: The Polluter
Wolf Warrior II
Journey to the Seventh Planet
Ghost Story, A
Lady in the Lake
Devil at Your Heels, The
Paddington 2
Two Jakes, The
Re: Born
Dracula Sucks
Perfect Weapon, The
Hollywood Babylon
True Legend
Die Laughing
Newest Articles
Stop That, It's Silly: The Ends of Monty Python
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
The House, Black Magic and an Oily Maniac: 3 from 70s Weird Asia
80s Meet Cute: Something Wild vs Into the Night
Interview with The Unseen Director Gary Sinyor
Wrong Forgotten: Is Troll 2 Still a Thing?
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
  1941 Bombs AwayBuy this film here.
Year: 1979
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Bobby Di Cicco, Treat Williams, Tim Matheson, Nancy Allen, Toshirô Mifune, Christopher Lee, Ned Beatty, Lorraine Gary, Robert Stack, Warren Oates, Murray Hamilton, Lionel Stander, Eddie Deezen, Slim Pickens, John Candy
Genre: Comedy, War
Rating:  5 (from 6 votes)
Review: It is December 1941, six days after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. American citizens are getting paranoid about when the next attack is to take place - are their fears justified by the appearance of a Japanese submarine off the coast of California? And will they be able to get their act together and repel the attackers?

You know, it's easy to forget that Steven Spielberg's first war epic was this big budget comedy flop from the late seventies. It was scripted by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, with help from John Milius (who was also one of the producers) and, if nothing else, is a testament to the fact that throwing millions of dollars at your film won't necessarily make the public go and see it. Even if some of them might actually enjoy it.

The large cast is made up of fashionable Saturday Night Live comedians, up and coming talent of the day, and seasoned pros. All of them show a tendency to overact, in an attempt to match the overwhelming size of the project. I suppose it's appropriate that, being a war film, most of the comedy is built around large scale destruction and violence - only in this battle, no one dies.

There's too much shouting, an over-reliance on blowing things up and broad slapstick for laughs, but 1941 does have its moments: father Ned Beatty takes his daughter aside before she goes out to tell her that the soldiers have only one thing on their minds... so she should "show them a good time"; General Robert Stack is more interested in seeing Dumbo than doing anything about the chaos outside; Eddie Deezen winding up Murray Hamilton as they watch for an invasion fleet.

The Japanese themselves aren't really much of a threat, more akin to the villains you'd see in comic war movies of the forties, and the Americans end up doing more fighting amongst themselves than with the enemy. But despite the irreverent air, 1941 is a patriotic film at heart, and when pushed the Americans come together and do their best for their country - see Dan Aykroyd's rousing speech, which is a nice scene.

The high spirits on show can be infectious, even if some of the script is painfully contrived (Nancy Allen's aeroplane fetish for one thing), and Spielberg's efforts to turn the action into a live action Tex Avery cartoon are strained. But with a film as big as this, you can't look away; as the mass hysteria builds and the movie piles setpiece upon setpiece it's never boring. Music by John Williams (of course). Also with: Dianne Kay, Wendie Jo Sperber, Samuel Fuller, John Landis, Dick Miller, Sidney Lassick, Elisha Cook Jr. Try to see the director's cut.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 11650 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Steven Spielberg  (1946 - )

Currently the most famous film director in the world, Spielberg got his start in TV, and directing Duel got him noticed. After The Sugarland Express, he memorably adapted Peter Benchley's novel Jaws and the blockbusters kept coming: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Indiana Jones sequels, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can, 2005's mega-budget remake of War of the Worlds, his Tintin adaptation and World War One drama War Horse.

His best films combine thrills with a childlike sense of wonder, but when he turns this to serious films like The Color Purple, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich and Bridge of Spies these efforts are, perhaps, less effective than the out-and-out popcorn movies which suit him best. Of his other films, 1941 was his biggest flop, The Terminal fell between two stools of drama and comedy and one-time Kubrick project A.I. divided audiences; Hook saw him at his most juvenile - the downside of the approach that has served him so well. Also a powerful producer.

Review Comments (1)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Jason Cook
Paul Shrimpton
  Jony Clark
  The Elix


Last Updated: